Quality Photography is Dying. Tony Northrup Suggests How to Save It

Posted Nov. 19th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Some of you may be familiar with Tony Northrup. I had never heard of him until about a year ago, but he does some nice blog posts—mostly videos—on lots of things relating to the world of photography. His latest video discusses what he feels camera makers need to do to increase interest in the larger, more serious cameras and also bring people into the fold from shooting pictures with just their phones. He has some great points, and his somewhat lengthy video is worth the effort. Let me know what you think the camera manufacturers can do, to stop their losses, in the comments below.

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There are 11 comments on this post…
  1. Viki GaulOn Feb. 21st, 2017 (4 months ago)

    A very interesting video for sure…Thanks for posting!

  2. Audrey GottliebOn Nov. 24th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    Thank you, Tony. This is so relevant. I will recommend you to my “History of Photography” students.

  3. Bill StormontOn Nov. 20th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    Hi Dan, just a bit of clean-up on the title of your post—you’ve written “Thorthrup” instead of Northrup, and the title “Photography is dying”…isn’t he talking about cameras, and not photography in the larger sense? I haven’t watched the video, so can’t really answer my second point. Thanks for posting this.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 21st, 2016 (7 months ago)

      Bill, Thanks for the input. I spelled Tony’s name wrong just to see if anyone was actually reading and you won the prize! Tongue in cheek here, actually what a great example of the downsides to being my own editor. I’m grateful when someone jumps in and gives me a hand. Greatly appreciated. It also shows how important it is we all question the things we read on the web, especially when it comes from a site, like mine, that can not only be biased but also understaffed, where mistakes can slip through the cracks. I’m writing this, thinking about how such incredibly respected publications, National Geographic for example, used to have dozens of people in place to do nothing but fact check text that was being written for the magazine. When I did my two stories for them, every comment, almost every word was researched for accuracy. Back then, Snowy Owl 2002 and Great Gray Owl 2005, Nat Geo had over 12 million subscribers in the US and Internationally. Today those numbers have fallen to just under 4 million subscribers though I’m not certain if that number reflects just the US or the overall world. With such a change in their readership their financials were a mess and last year Rupert Murdoch, owner of FOX News swept in and bought them.

      How does this all relate to me misspelling Tony’s last name? It’s all about accuracy and the need for all of us to read more than one source, watch more than one channel, listen to more than once voice, be open to lots of people’s ideas and feelings AND support the institutions who have taken a pledge to adhere to professional journalism standards. My little Blog is part of the problem we’re all seeing today where good enough has replaced our will and desire to support an entity like National Geographic. It sounds hard to believe, but Nat Geo readers are down simply due to people having so many other places to find what they feel is interesting reading, the internet.

      So thanks for the heads up. I’ll be watching myself more closely and to Tony, sorry about this foul-up. I know this is all just photography but after this last election, truth, honesty, integrity and fact checking is even more important than it’s ever been.

  4. Ralph T. GerwingOn Nov. 19th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    in my first years in the Canadian Arctic, i used as an introduction to quality photography a
    Asahi Pentax with metering in the Prism. i laboured over using slides or print film, i ended up near using exclusively slide film, with a few shots from internegative to large blow up posters. which if the subject was interesting, was usable.
    So skipping along to now, for my social media page, i dug out the boxes, and trays ” huge job ” and scanned them into digital, worked quite well, at 1600 dpi, try 4,800 if you have the time. this gives imo, something like 1920 by 1080 and the wow factor on fb was ecstatic. “”i was a kid, in the oil patch, in the Arctic Islands , on drill rigs, planes, people and ice. quite something, the photos though fair to good, show a landscape few people have seen, birds, flowers and fish pictures, , so wonderful to be there moments, shared, So what did it mean to immediacy of photos, well i carried rolls, of film dozens of rolls at a time, my larger purchases of film would be fifty rolls for a 3 month period. then i found the disposable camera by Kodak, and Fuji, ” years later ” and that worked, just by subject material alone. and surprisingly the slides stood up well, i found a light table made for examining printed circuit boards, and put lots of slides, to quick scan before i hi rez scanned. really recommend a high intensity light table, i am using a 2×3 ft , and a 3×5, get the large one, if you have the room and lots of slides. Now what to say, i see no death in cameras, i see every one wanting to tell about their past, or events that were capital in their life. your going to need a quality point n shoot, or a semi pro camera, for long extended stays on travels, n adventures of a life time. Arctic Days Revisited , Ralph Thomas Gerwing facebook https://www.facebook.com/rolfthomasowan.gx/media_set?set=a.953747731352778.1073741851.100001526818285&type=3

  5. Dane JaquesOn Nov. 19th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    This is very insightful. It also mirrors my experience. Even while hauling around my DSLR and 600mm lens, I had the latest point-and-shoot camera in my vest for “snapshots.” Several years ago I gave that up because the camera on my iPhone was pretty darn good. The camera on my iPhone 7 plus is much better than my pocket camera just a few years ago. I am pretty sure I wil never buy a consumer level camera again. What I am not so sure about are the “bridge” cameras Tony mentions. I have a complete micro four-thirds system and love it. Very capable, but I don’t have to travel with two Pelican cases and (no kidding) start a workout routine in advance of a major trip. I am very happy with the images I get out of my micro 4/3 camera and believe that while it is a shade behind my Nikon DSLR system, for most of my photography needs it does everything I need extremely well. The bigger question in my mind is whether, as the next step, DSLRs will fade in light of the ever-more-capable bridge/micro four-thirds systems.

  6. Dennis LindenOn Nov. 19th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    Tony actually does a pretty good job of summarizing the problem that we have seen for several years now. Unfortunately he would probably call me an old codger, so my generation of comments won’t be as useful as those of some teenager who does not carry with them the baggage of learning photography the traditional way.

    The Leica T. That is a good example of where the industry tries something new but still gets it wrong. The basic premise was a new platform, some moves were made to create the all touch interface, but then what? Insiders and old codgers totally influenced the design. F stops , 1/30 sec … the new platform was forced to use the same terms as the old platform. The focus group should have been a bunch of skate boarders not Leica faithful.

    Think about the things that can be solved with smart devices that can’t be done easily with cameras. The Panorama is a good example of an instant stitching program. I love panoramas with my Nodal ninja and all the work that comes after it because I enjoy them printed large and handing on a wall, but I shoot many multiples more with my iPhone. Panoramas in camera are no where near as convenient. The interface is still too cludgy, and wont’ be fixed with software updates so, they are what they are.

    We need to remember what Kodak forgot. Kodak was in the business of selling memories, not hardware (including film). The camera companies are in the same business. They need to start with the end in mind — how do people today and in the next decades plan to share memories? What are important memories to capture? The ones who get that right will also figure out the steps to reverse engineer the problem from there to the tools used to create the capture of the memory.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 19th, 2016 (7 months ago)

      Great input Dennis. Thanks for adding your voice.

  7. George LambieOn Nov. 19th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    This is simply change in action. Nothing new here, its just a natural progression of the photography industry. Cell phone cams are what the masses want….and these phone cams have been developed to appeal to them. Easy, easy and…easy, oh..and basically free. Canon and Nixon are in trouble. They’re trying to hold onto the way it used to be….the “right way”…..good luck with that. The DSLR is dead.

  8. MaryOn Nov. 19th, 2016 (7 months ago)

    Call me old school but I love DSLR. I have been in love with photography since I was five or six and my grandmother gave me an old brownie.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 19th, 2016 (7 months ago)

      Mary, me too but so many others aren’t. We need to help the camera makers figure out what they can do to help attract the phone users. I think Tony Northrup does a good job, but it’s just a start. Part of the reason I moved over to the Micro Four Thirds world and Panasonic in particular was the Touch Screen on their cameras. They have other interesting technologies as well. I was just tired of waiting for Nikon to move fast than a frozen river. Thanks for stopping by to add your voice.

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